Monday, July 26, 2010

Basil Davidson -- R.I.P

I had no idea that the famous Africanist, Basil Davidson, had passed away on the 9th, of July. May he forever rest in eternal peace. I was still carrying a World Cup hangover, and that's probably why I missed his death. They say that "only the good die young", but good-old Basil was a sprightly 95 when he passed away: so much for that much-used saying!

I have three of his books in my collection, and to me, the most poignant, most pertinent, is "The Black Man's Burden". Here Basil Davidson is almost pleading with Africa's post-colonial leaders not to waste any time in proceeding with policies that would aid in Africa's development. In his later writing, one can sense a feeling of sadness -- even bewilderment -- at how independent Africa has failed to get it's act together.

For someone who had spent most of his adult life observing African civilisation, it must have been disheartening to see modern Africa's dire predicament. Basil Davidson represented all that what was noble in the British Empire.

Yes, the British did a lot of bad things to a lot of people -- ask the Irish -- but they also produced wonderfully talented individuals. If you need a British perspective on Africa, written by someone from a certain era and a certain class, then look no further than Basil Davidson.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tribe, Nation, Ethnicity

English is a living language like all other languages and there are no statutory laws regarding it's usage. Nevertheless, we need to be wary of throwing around loaded words like "tribe". Such usage is a holdover from previous eras when openly racist discourse -- tribe, barbarian, pagan, cannibal, heathen, savage -- was used in justifying the enslavement, colonisation, and oppression of Non-European peoples in Africa, The Americas, and the Pacific islands.

It's much more preferable to use use "nation", or "nationality" when referring to the people (or peoples) who inhabit a specific geographic area, and "ethnicity" when referring to the language/cultural groups who make up that nation. Indeed that is how the indigenous peoples of North America define themselves: a member of the Lakota "tribe" will never besmirch his identity in such a way, but rather will say that he belongs to the Lakota nation. That is how the indigenous peoples of Canada are described: as First Nations.

Just because certain African intellectuals frequently use the term "tribe" does not, in any way, remove its negative connotations. My fellow African intellectuals are often prone to intellectual laziness, and tend to regurgitate whatever rigmarole is spewed out from the West. Furthermore, many of them -- despite claiming to speak for Africa -- are weighed down by acute inferiority complexes. They too need to be 're-educated', so to speak, and to be shown the error in their ways.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Let Them Keep Their Loot!...and Leave Us Alone!

Tendai Biti -- "Let's tell them (top Zanu officials) that they can leave and not lose their farms or get arrested".

That was Tendai Biti, The MDC's Secretary-General, and also Zimbabwe's Min of Finance. I've been saying, for God-knows how many years now, that the only way to improve Zimbabwe's political climate, is to allow Zanu's top leadership to retire (quietly) to their farms, and give them blanket immunity from any future prosecution.

Those who claim morals as their guiding principle need to carefully consider what options we Zimbabweans have on the table. With 85% unemployment, a collapsed health-care sector and industry in shambles, we can ill-afford to continue having the present Zanu leadership in place. The Govt of (dis)unity stopped the rot, but it is ill-equipped to move things onto a higher level. Plus we might have elections next year, and the nightmare of another 5 years of an underperformng Govt of Nat Unity looms large.

If the 50 or so top Zanu officials in the security establishment, and in the govt were allowed to go, there would immediately be a better climate for the economy to operate in. Let's cut our losses right now, to give a chance to the millions of Zimbabwean children who go to bed hungry each night, and to the millions of workers unable to find work.

Life, in general, gives you two stark choices: bad or worse. The choice that I've highlighted above would be the least painful for Zimbabwe's masses. It's high time we gave it a try.

James Chikonamombe

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Asamoah Gyan

I still haven't recovered from yesterday's cliff-hanger of a game between Ghana and Uruguay; I'm emotionally drained. I now understand how easy it is for ordinarily-sane people to lose their minds. What a a game!

If only Asamoah Gyan had composed himself and steadied himself just before taking the penalty, he might have had the calmness to just tap the ball in. But no! He hurried himself up, and struck the upright. I think that in his head, he was already celebrating the goal. He might also have been tired, after playing 120 minutes of football.

I don't know how long it will take for me to get yesterday's events out of my head, but I suspect that it will be in my head for a very long time. As a rabid Pan-Africanist, I'm proud of what Ghana achieved, and I'm also happy that the whole tournament has gone on without a glitch.